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Monthly Archives: August 2013

VSAN Observer

Based on the incredible amount of interest on VSAN at VMworld the numerous questions regarding system performance and VSAN specific statistics I wanted to share a couple of utilities that can be used to gain visibility into VSAN performance metrics and counters for  what’s going  one of the golden nuggets included with vSphere 5.5 is the packaging and support of the Ruby vSphere Console. The Ruby vSphere Console (RVC) is an interactive command interface based on the Ruby programming language and the RbVmomi binding APIs for vSphere. RVC is now part of both Windows and Linux versions of vCenter Server 5.5. RVC can now be used to manage, monitor, and troubleshoot vSphere. In vSphere 5.5 RVC ships with a number of Virtual SAN (VSAN) built-in functionalities with focus on:

  • VSAN Configuration
  • VSAN Health Monitoring
  • VSAN Disks Statistics
  • VSAN Performance Statistics
  • VSAN Observer

The VSAN Observer is an RVC experimental graphical user interface utility which displays VSAN related statistics from a VSAN Client perspective. The utility can be used to understand VSAN performance characteristics. The utility is intended to provide deeper insights of VSAN performance characteristics and analytics. The VSAN Observer’s user interface displays performance information of the following items:

  • Statistics of the physical disk layer
  • Deep dive physical disks group details
  • CPU Usage Statistics
  • Consumption of VSAN memory pools
  • Physical and In-memory object distribution across VSAN clusters

Below is a brief demo of the VSAN Observer UI and some of the different screens and information it provides.

VSAN Observer Demo

Much more to come on this topic.

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vCloud Suite 5.5 – Click Thru Demos available online

As part of the launch collateral for vCloud Suite 5.5, VMware’s Technical Marketing team has created a number of ‘click-thru’ demos. These have been used extensively at VMworld 2013, both in break-out sessions and in the VMware booth.

However, these demos are also available online, and can be readily accessed by VMware customers who are interested in seeing some of the new features in version 5.5 first hand.

The navigation is quite simple. The upper left hand corner, when clicked, will give you a list of available demos. The upper right hand corner (i for information) will display screen navigation tips, such as turning on and off annotation and turning on and off demo notes.

We have demos covering Virtual SAN (which I used in my VSAN Session at VMworld), but also VDP, Application HA, Flash Read Cache, and many more.

The link to the demos is here – http://vmwarewalkthroughs.com/vCloudSuite5-5/. Check back regularly to see new content and videos, which we plan to add very soon.

Get notification of these blogs postings and more VMware Storage information by following me on Twitter: @VMwareStorage

Comparing VMware VSA & VMware Virtual SAN

After VMware made the official announcement of VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) the public beta release and the plans for the product general availability there has been a great deal of interest from customers and a magnitude of questions regarding the similarities between the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) and Virtual SAN (VSAN).

Because of all the interest and questions I wanted to quickly provide some information about the fundamental differences between the two solutions. Now, while the solutions maybe similar in concept, they are very different in many, many other ways and in fact, VSA doesn’t even belong in the same sentence with VSAN. VSA is a solution with a set of specifically defined use cases that can and should still be used where it fits depending on the requirements. VSAN is an advanced storage solution that can be used for some of the same use cases as VSA, but VSAN provides a greater level of flexibility, scalability, performance, and ease of management. Below you’ll find a brief comparison between the two solutions and some of the fundamental different  between them:


vSphere Storage Appliance

VMware Virtual SAN

Description Low cost, simple shared storage for small deployments Scale-out distributed storage designed for virtualized/cloud environments
Form factor Virtual Appliance Built-in vSphere kernel
Ideal Targets
•Small SMB
•ROBO deployments
•2 to 3 vSphere servers
•Does not scale beyond 3 hosts


•Minimum 3 hosts deployments
•Scale out to vSphere cluster size
Performance No SSD (low performance) SSD caching (high performance)
•Simple install & configure
•Scales up to ~16TB usable storage
•vCenter-integrated management
•SSD caching and intelligent data placement
•Rapid storage provisioning
•Scale-out for large deployments
•Granular scaling
•Storage policy based management

I hope this quick comparison is useful and is helpful for comparing the two solutions. More to come on this topic.

For future updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter at @PunchingClouds

What’s New in vSphere 5.5 Storage

As with any vSphere launch, there are a bunch of new storage related features announced. This year is a little different as there are some considerable updates which I wanted to share with you.

Virtual SAN (VSAN)
VMware has made a public beta announcement on VSAN. While it is not yet GA, it is almost there and vSphere 5.5 will enable you to try it out first hand. VMware is taking a software-defined approach with VSAN and providing a product that is radically simpler, more scalable and agile, and lower-cost than traditional monolithic SAN or NAS storage. The storage is flexible & elastic in that virtual storage can live anywhere across the pooled resource. It’s inherently a fault-replace model; any failure is handled without downtime. And, the entire system is tightly integrated with, and automated by, vCenter … and it’s specifically integrated into the application provisioning workflow so that it’ll maximize Cloud application deployment agility. There will be a lot more on VSAN over the coming weeks and months – stay tuned.

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2013 VMware Fling Contest – Call for Entries

The 2013 VMware Fling Contest is now open. Do you have an idea on how certain features or functionality could be improved upon? Can you think of an app that would make the life of a system administrator so much easier? Do you have a repetitive task that you wished you could have automated in your vSphere environment? Or a decision making tool for certain tasks? We are looking for you, our customers & users, to propose ideas for new VMware Flings.  Our panel of judges will pick the winner.  The submitter of the winning entry will win a free pass to VMworld 2014.

Last year we got over 120 submissions.  We’re also planning to release a new Fling (Proactive DRS) at VMworld that was built based on last year’s winning winning idea.

 The 2013 VMware Fling Contest URL is: https://flingcontest.vmware.com

The contest will remain open for submissions through November 15.

Get notification of these blogs postings and more VMware Storage information by following me on Twitter: @VMwareStorage

Announcing vSphere with Operations Management 5.5 – Increasing Performance and Availability for Your Business Critical Applications

We’re excited to announce the release of VMware vSphere with Operations Management 5.5!

Back in March 2013, we launched vSphere with Operations Management as our next iteration of the vSphere platform. Watching our customers struggle with managing capacity through the old-school method of spreadsheets convinced us that by adding a single pane of glass that provides visibility into workload capacity and health to our flagship virtualization platform, we would make our customers’ virtualization journey much smoother.

This 5.5 release offers several enhancements, all related to helping our customers 1) deliver better performance and availability for business critical apps and 2) support next-gen workloads (Big Data anyone?). These enhancements include:

  • Greater Scalability – Configurations have doubled from previous limits when it comes to physical CPUs, memory and NUMA nodes. Virtual disk files also now scale up to 64TBs.
  • vSphere Customization for Low Latency Applications – vSphere with Operations Management can be tuned to deliver the best performance for low latency applications, such as in-memory databases
  • vSphere Flash Read Cache – Server side flash can now be virtualized to provide a high performance read cache layer that dramatically lowers application latency.
  • vSphere App HA – This new level of availability enables vSphere with Operations Management to detect and recover from application or operating system failure.
  • vSphere Big Data Extensions – Apache Hadoop workloads can now run on vSphere with Operations Management to achieve higher utilization, reliability and agility.

To learn more, check out our official page.
If you’re at VMworld, don’t forget to:

  • Play with the product at our VMworld Hands-On Labs (Moscone South – Esplanade Level)
  • Hear how our customers are using vSphere with Operations Management at VMworld Session VSVC4686 on Wednesday, August 28th at 1 pm PT.
  • Learn about pricing/packaging at VMworld Session VSVC1002-GD on Monday, August 26th at 1 pm PT.
  • Caption: Big Data workloads are now supported on vSphere with Operations Management 5.5.

Virtual Machine Backups and Snapshots

Based on information received from VMware Support, one of the most common reasons a support request (SR) for a backup issue is opened stems from virtual machine (VM) snapshots. The majority of backup and recovery solutions utilize the vSphere APIs for Data Protection (VADP), which leverages VM snapshots to perform backups. However, if a VM has one or more existing snapshots, this can cause backup failures. Many solutions handle this gracefully. Others provide nice, descriptive warnings like the one from vSphere Data Protection (VDP) shown below and, unfortunately, there are a few products that do not provide clear indication of why there was a failure.

Moral of this short story: If you are seeing backup failure on one or maybe a few of your VMs, one of the first things you should check is whether the VM has an existing snapshot. In a few, rare instances, I have seen a VM that has an existing snapshot, but it does not show up in the snapshot management user interface (UI) of the vSphere Web Client. If you suspect this is the case, here is a simple workaround: Take (another) snapshot. Once that process has completed, use the Delete All option to consolidate all of the snapshots. Then, retry your backup.

Proper snapshot management and clean-up has always been a best practice and this is one more reason to follow that best practice. Here are a couple of VMware Knowledge Base (KB) articles that help with VM snapshot management and clean-up:

Consolidating snapshots in vSphere 5.x

Delete all Snapshots and Consolidate Snapshots feature FAQ

Speaking of best practices – if you are going to be at VMworld next week, here are a few sessions related to backup and recovery that include best practices:

BCO4756 VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Technical Deep Dive And Troubleshooting Session

BCO5041 vSphere Data Protection – What’s New and Technical Walkthrough

BCO5162 Implementing a Holistic BC/DR Strategy with VMware – Part Two

BCO5851 VMware Backups That Work – Lessons Learned and Backup Performance Tuning Based on Extensive VADP Benchmark Testing

I am sure there a more sessions that contain some backup and recovery best practices so be sure to search the VMworld content catalog for more. The list above is simply to get you started. Hope to see you at VMworld next week!


VSAN and Software-Defined Storage at VMworld 2013

Here at VMware, we believe the next big area for innovation in the software-defined datacenter is software-defined storage (SDS).  VMworld 2013 is our opportunity to introduce Virtual SAN (VSAN), a new technology that converts direct attached storage into high performance, resilient, and flexible shared storage designed for virtual machines. Using only three servers you can create a shared datastore and start enjoying these benefits; stay tuned for more details.  If you are attending VMworld, then there are quite a few opportunities to learn more about VSAN.

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Instant KB articles in the VMware Knowledge Portal

Recently we have added the ability to access Knowledge Base (KB) resources via the VMware Knowledge Portal, the FREE iPad and Android tablet app available here:

Android app on Google Play VMware Mobile Knowledge Portal - Regalix, Inc

Now you can find the article you need on your portable device and use that information to resolve issues quicker and in an easily readable format.

From the main screen you will now see a new “Knowledge Base (KB) Links” section where you can keep up to date with VMware Knowledge base articles and blogs.

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Preview – VMworld 2013 Extreme Performance Series: Storage in a Flash

Finally a shout out to our final session the Extreme Performance Series focused on Flash!  Flash is changing how traditional storage is leveraged and consumed so you won’t want to miss this breakout on what VMware is doing.   Continue reading